FareShare South West’s plan to tackle the winter food crisis: FoodStock2020

Our latest blog is by Julian Mines, CEO of FareShare South West about the launch of FoodStock2020. This campaign aims to build a stockpile of emergency food with the infrastructure to deliver it to critical frontline organisations.

As CEO of the South West’s largest food redistribution charity, I can honestly say that this year has been a huge challenge for us, but we are so glad we exist to support our community during such uncertain times. With a mission to save good quality, surplus food from right across the food industry and redistribute it to frontline organisations who serve the most vulnerable, we were stunned by the sudden rise in demand that we witnessed as the country went into the first lockdown on 23rd March.

From our work prior to the pandemic – supplying over 300 organisations across the region with food support – we were acutely aware that food insecurity was a very real issue for thousands living in Bristol and the wider South West, but the crisis really laid that reality bare and exacerbated the vulnerable situations many found themselves in.

Expanding by five times our capacity back in March 2020 to meet the sudden need was only possible thanks to temporary infrastructure afforded by a number of organisations, funders offering temporary support and by financial donations from the public. That’s now ended, and, with a second wave already apparent, we need to ensure we have the funds, infrastructure and resource this time round to keep people fed in the winter ahead. This time we must be more strategic, coordinated and targeted as a region to make sure those in the most critical situations are prioritised, and we want to go further in serving and supporting frontline groups.

That’s why we’ve just launched FoodStock2020: a campaign with the aim to build a stockpile of emergency food, with the infrastructure to deliver it to critical frontline organisations through a difficult winter. Our aim is to distribute enough food for one million meals in just three months.

This stockpile of emergency food will then be ready to be distributed to:

  • plug gaps at food banks,
  • support additional local charities,
  • reach COVID response initiatives,
  • be delivered into community centres and schools,
  • help our existing front-line partners meet an increased need.

We’re relying on the power of Bristol – a city brimming with care and compassion – to come together to help us get this centralised emergency solution to the food insecurity we anticipate, off the ground. To confirm, we are not looking for donations of food but instead for funding from local businesses, public donations where people feel able, and even volunteering – including to help us operate a food parcel packing hub, located on the mezzanine level of our secondary warehouse. This space will centralise food parcel packing for the city and wider region and allow our food to go to organisations and initiatives of all sizes.

We’re not waiting until a full lockdown hits or until demand spikes to astronomical levels. We’re preparing now and hope that anyone reading this might consider supporting us as we get the food and infrastructure together to be the safety net for our region this winter.

Find out more about how you can support FoodStock 2020 now – on the FareShare South West website.

Bristol Going for Gold joins together individuals, organisations and policymakers behind a shared ambition of making Bristol a Gold Sustainable Food City. As a city, we can achieve this through better interconnectivity in our food community and by giving each and every person in Bristol the inspiration and knowledge needed to be part of a food system that’s good for people, planet and our city.

Though this vision for Bristol’s food system remains unchanged, the food landscape everywhere has altered drastically in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about how Bristol Going for Gold has responded, and how you can be part of a resilient food community.

Julian is also on the Board of Trustees for Feeding Bristol (the lead on the Food Equality action area of Bristol’s Going for Gold Sustainable Food Places bid). Feeding Bristol invites you to an opportunity to help shape a resilient food system for Bristol: Find out more about the Feeding Bristol conference on 11th November.

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